Questions and Suggested Answers
Based on the writings of Nehama Leibowitz
Abravanel makes the following comment on Halevi’s question:
The text employs three terms (to describe God)
The special four letter name "the Lord";
"who brought thee out of the land of Egypt" indicating three motivations for obeying his commandments and observing them.
The first big reason of His being the Lord - a name connoting his essence through which he created the universe, deriving from a root meaning "existence" i.e. who brought into existence and created all. In other words, since I gave you existence and being - it is only right that you observe my commandments.
The second aspect - to be thy God - i.e. watching over and guarding you. No star or guardian angel rules your destiny. I alone am the God who leads you and therefore you are obligated to observe my commandments.
The third aspect: I released you from Egypt - a forbidding country ruled over by a forbidding monarch, appropriately known as a house of serfs, a land of no return for those imprisoned therein. My kindness in securing your release from there warrants that you carry out my commandments and walk in my path - as it is stated: my servants they are whom I released from the land of Egypt.
How does Abravanel answer his question?
In his answer Abravanel is saying in effect that the text indeed conveys the message that God created "heaven and earth and made you, too." This all is implied in the reference "the Lord." From that starting point the next two references to the Almighty then state the personal relationship that exists between the creator and the Jewish people.
Judah Halevi in the Kuzari bases adherence to mitzvot on the God of revelation - starting with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
According to Abravanel, the starting point is the cosmos and then comes the special relationship between the creator and Israel. Halevi’s starting point is the God of revelation whereas Abravanel, and many other philosophers, start with the God of creation.
Prepared by: Rabbi Mordechai Spiegelman veteran yeshiva educator (USA) now residing in Jerusale